2013 Holiday Mobile Photography Gift Guide
'Tis the season for giving, but buying for your friends and loved ones can be hard, especially when it comes to photography gear. Smartphones give everyone the chance to be a photographer, whether it's your otherwise technology illiterate uncle or extremely enthusiastic daughter. But what do you get your friend who #thinks #in #hashtags, the sister who documents the whole little league series with her iPhone or the spouse who is a professional photographer, but enjoys a little smartphone snapping on the side?
Here at DPReview Connect, we have you covered. We've got gifts for the Instagram enthusiast, serial smartphone documentary photographer and the DSLR-turned-mobile photography convert. Click through the different pages of this extensive smartphone photography gift guide to see our favorite products for the mobile photographer in your life.
The only thing cooler than making your photos look retro is making your smartphone look retro, too! Get iPhone-toting Leica lovers the Gizmon iCA5 case, which not only makes your iPhone 5 look more like a real camera but also offers some of the benefits of one.
The case features an optical viewfinder, physical shutter button, micro hot shoe, conversion lens mount, tripod socket and holes for attaching a strap. If you want to add a little flair to your hardware, an optional leather case and neck strap is sold separately to complete the look.
- optical viewfinder
- physical shutter button
- micro hot shoe
- conversion lens mount
- tripod attachment
- looks totally rad
What we like: This case not only look awesome, it has extra features as well. With an optical viewfinder and physical shutter button, you get the comfort of a traditional camera with the connectivity of an iPhone.
What we don't like: Yeah, you're going to look a little silly talking on this thing.
For a cheap and functional stocking stuffer, look no further than the Smartphone Spy Lens. This little device attaches to mobile phones via a circular magnet which you adhere around the camera lens. By using a magnet instead of a more rigid attachment method, users can turn the lens easily, gaining a different view with each twist. You can use it to periscope around corners, shoot better candids and get low compositions easier (or, you know, spy.)
- potential for interesting compositions
- takes photos with a 90-degree perspective shift
- works on almost any smartphone camera
- swivels 360° to take photos from any angle
What we like: A great little gift for any smartphone photographer. Can give your photos a unique perspective.
What we don't like: With great sneaky power, comes great responsibility. In the wrong hands, this tool can be used for evil.
For some people, Instagram is just another arm of social media and is a great outlet to share photos of lunch. For others, Instagram is a place to publish the most visually pleasing observations of their day, to curate their lives into a feed of stunning photos. No matter how your friends use Instagram, give them the chance to print out their memories with Printsagram.
A Prinstagram gift card lets your friends choose their favorite Instagram photos and print directly from their feeds. Gift amounts range from $20 to $100 and the credit never expires. They can print 48 "mini squares" of photos for $12, 36 4x4 greeting cards for $25, or even get a framed print for $60. Projects range from basic prints to calendars and Printsagram promises that the prints match "the quality and magic of the app itself." Depending on how you see Instagram, that can be either a very good or very bad thing. I used Printsagram to make my holiday cards this year and the quality of the prints far exceeded my expectations of my low-resolution Instagram photos.
- variety of printing options and products
- easy printing straight from your Instagram feed
- high quality prints
What we like: Easy to use and high quality results. The prints and products match the aesthetic and intention of Instagram as a photography tool.
What we don't like: Prinstagram is exclusively for Instagram users because it takes photos straight from the feed. There are plenty of other options for non-Instagrammer photo printing, too.
Smartphone photography is a power suck — especially when you are immediately uploading all of your photos to Instagram.
The ChargeCard is as thick as two credit cards and comes with either a micro USB port, 30-pin connector for older iPhones or lightning port for the iPhone 5 and later. The ChargeCard plugs into any USB power source, charging your phone without the tangled mess of a USB cord. If you worry that your recipient's wallet is already stuffed, check out the ChargeKey.
- Available for micro USB, 30-pin, or lightning connectors
- Tiny and portable
- 3.1 amp charging
- Works with tablets
What we like: Works with almost any smartphone and will fit in almost any wallet.
What we don't like: You still need a computer or USB-to-wall charger to give your phone juice.
If there is one thing that Instagram addicts love, it's selfies. Instead of staging an intervention to get your friends or family to stop selfies all together, teach them how to improve with help from pocket-sized lighting equipment.
The Pocket Reflector and Pocket Spotlight from Photojojo will improve portraits in any lighting situation. The Pocket Reflector uses natural light already in your scene and bounces it back into your subject's face. The result is a well-lit, organic-looking portrait. For dark portraits, look to the Pocket Spotlight to brighten up your night shot.
- bounce natural light with the Pocket Reflector
- Pocket Reflector folds down to 5-inch diameter
- Pocket Spotlight is USB-chargeable
- Pocket Spotlight lasts for up to one hour
What we like: The benefit of these accessories is portability. Both can be stashed quickly in a purse, bag, and — as their name suggests — a pocket. For their size, they perform pretty well and most importantly, they are an improvement over an LED smartphone flash.
What we don't like: If you're looking for professional-grade lighting equipment, this ain't it. But you can't fit studio lighting in your pocket, so it's a decent trade.
Whatever happened to the good old days when you could hold a photo in your hand? With smartphones, we are taking photos more than ever, but the nature of the medium means that those photos are staying on social networks instead of getting printed. Give your friends to chance to decorate their real life walls (not just the Facebook ones) with the LG Pocket Photo Printer.
The LG Pocket Photo Printer connects to your smartphone through either Bluetooth, USB or NFC and prints 640 x 1224 resolution photos on 2x3-inch paper. The paper cartridges can be purchased at B&H for $14.99 for 30 sheets.
- print photos from a pmartphone
- Bluetooth wireless
- NFC technology
- USB port for direct connection
- rechargeable battery
What we like: Tiny and portable, rechargeable battery and easy smartphone connectivity.
What we don't like: Prints are small and pricey.
For a modern twist on a classic New Year's gift, check out Artifact Uprising's wood-backed clipboard calendar. With Artifact Uprising, you can give your friends or family a chance to publish their favorite smartphone photos on a calendar or book. The layout of Artifact Uprising's calendar is perfect for square-cropped Instagram photos, though it definitely works for other photo sizes as well.
Building a calendar on Artifact Uprising's website is easy. Upload your images, crop them and change the opacity if you want. Calendar pages are 5 x 7 inches and they sit clipped to a 5.5 x 7.5-inch wooden board with a magnetic mount on the back so you can hang it easily on a refrigerator and display it year-round.
- 5.5 x 7-inch clipboard made of beetle-kill pine reclaimed from Colorado forests
- 5 x 7 paper eggshell-colored
- magnetic mounting hardware
What we like: Really easy user interface and the calendar layout is perfect for square Instagram photos. The clipboard can be reused when the calendar is finished.
What we don't like: Smaller than the classic wall calendar with limited space to actually track your daily events.
Do you have a friend who is always the photographer and never the model? Give them a chance to take great self-portraits with Shuttr. I gave Shuttr four out of five stars in my review earlier this year, impressed by how easy it is to use. Just pair it to your smartphone as a Bluetooth device. After it is connected, Shuttr can take photos in the native photo application on all iPhones and many popular Android phones by activating the “volume up” capture tool.If you do want to give Shuttr to friend, make sure that their phone is compatible with the tiny device. If your phone has a designated capture button instead of utilizing volume control, Shuttr will not work. So while it may work well with iOS and Android devices, Nokia's Lumia line has a distinct Camera Key, so Shutter isn't compatible. Shuttr has its own Android application that is designed for phones like the Sony Xperia models that do not use volume-up button shutter control in the native app.
- take photos from up to 30 meters away
- works on all iOS devices running iOS 5 or later as well as many Android models
- small and light
What we like: Tiny, portable and extremely simple to set up and use. Shuttr is a fun tool for selfie enthusiasts, budding wildlife photographers and slow-exposure-loving iOS and Android photographers.
What we don’t like: No replaceable battery and only works on iOS and Android devices.
Know someone who loves light painting or group shots? Get them the tiniest, sturdiest tripod of 2013. When folded up it's so small you can easily carry it in your jeans pocket or even use as a key fob. Yet it's a nicely made and sturdy mini-tripod that firmly holds your device in place and allows you to easily adjust the shooting angle.The Grip Tight Micro Stand is in reality not one but two products that can also be purchased individually. The Grip Tight is a foldable spring-loaded smartphone holder that screws on to any standard size tripod mount. The Micro Stand is a foldable micro-tripod that can be combined with the Grip Tight but also works well with compact cameras. The mount's socket joint is stiff enough to even hold larger models, such as a Micro Four Thirds camera with a kit lens.
- fits any smartphone and some compact cameras
- pocket-size, with hole to attach to key ring
- ball head tilts 36 degrees in any direction
- rubber foot grips stabilize smartphones on uneven surfaces
- rubber pads secure phone in place, even when turned sideways
What we like: Miniscule dimensions, clever folding design, works with a variety of phones, good build-quality.
What we don't like: A little more expensive than other mini tripods.
For the adventurous smartphone photographer in your life, try the Hitcase Pro. This rugged case survived weekends of outdoor training with photographer Nate Watters, keeping his phone safe and taking some great wide-angle shots. Commenting on the Hitcase Pro's camera functionality, Watters said "Thanks to the two-element, wide-angle glass lens, image quality is retained in both photos and video. Even my underwater photos came out as sharp as I could hope for."
In addition to giving your iPhone a wider view, the Hitcase Pro provides serious protection. It handles high impact and guards your phone from sand and water. While the audio and speaker capabilities may suffer from the extra protection, the bulk is worth the inconvenience if you like to take your phone jet skiing or rock climbing.
- high impact ABS construction
- waterproof to 30 feet
- wide angle, two-element glass lens
- audio jack
- mountable to almost any surface
What we like: The ability to instantly transform your smartphone into a wearable action camera. Durable enough to stand up to rigorous conditions while maintaining image quality.
What we don't like: Can feel bulky and heavy. Plastic screen cover scratches easily. Accompanying app did not perform under our testing. Not currently available for platforms other than iPhone.
Olloclip's lens accessory is great and all, but it's a pain to have to take off your case every time you want to use your lens. For the holidays, Olloclip bundled its new 4-1-one lens with its Quick-Flip case. For $99.99, you can gift a wide angle, fish eye, and two different macro lenses with a versatile and protective case.The Olloclip Quick-Flip case has window over the camera that is revealed by swinging open a tiny section of the back. This new opening is just big enough for the Olloclip to slide on. Additionally, the case’s opening can function as a shutter button for manual volume button capture. It also has a removable tripod attachment for when you need to take steady shots.
- 180-degree fish eye lens
- wide-angle lens
- 10X and 15X macro lenses
- versatile case for constant protection
What we like: Easy to use, well-made. Optical quality of the new Olloclip far exceeds that of the original.
What we don't like: Tiny lenses mean tiny components. It's easy to misplace parts of the Olloclip.
For the price of a low-end point and shoot, you can turn an iPhone into a super-shooter. With the lens-making history of Schneider Optics behind it, the iPro lens comes with a fish eye, wide angle lens and 2X telephoto lens. The lenses mount onto a sturdy case that has built-in tripod attachments.
If you’re looking for the optimal balance of portability, image quality and system expandability in a product that gives you both interchangeable lenses and physical support, the iPro should be at the top of your list.
- iPro S2 case for iPhone 5
- macro S2 lens
- super wide S2 Lens
- 2X tele S2 lens
- combi handle (3 Section)
- lens cap
What we like: Image quality is amongst the best we've seen in an attachable lens.
What we don't like: Somewhat difficult to attach to phone, and rather bulky system to carry.
Panoramas are awesome, but even the best apps won't produce good results if the user can't hold the phone steady. For the perfect panorama, check out the Smartphone Timelapse Turntable.The Smartphone Timelapse Turntable can be set like a kitchen timer to capture a customized pan between 90 and 360 degrees. It's is compatible with all time-lapse and panoramic apps on the market and looks like it would fit most smartphones. Small cameras can also be mounted to the device.
- full 360-degree rotation
- compatible with all existing time-lapse apps
- ¼” screw threads for mounting cameras (up to 750g)
- fold-out stabilizing legs
What we like: Takes flawless panoramas with any smartphone app and most compact cameras.
What we don't like: Rotation is locked to a timer, so you can't adjust it.
eye.fi; $49.99, $79.99, $99.99
For your friends who are torn between the image quality of their cameras and the convenience of their smartphone, help them bridge the gap with the EyeFi Mobi. Available as a 8GB SDHC card for $50, 16GB SDHC card for $80, and 32GB SDHC card for $99.99, the EyeFi Mobi offers the ability to send full-resolution photos wirelessly as they’re captured to iOS devices and Android devices.Advanced shooters may not like its lack of Raw support, lack of manual wireless-transfer controls and inability to transfer the same photo from the camera to multiple devices at the same time. Casual photographers who just want a wire-free way to get JPEG images from a digital camera to a smartphone or tablet will enjoy the Mobi’s simple setup and fast transfer speeds. It’s simple, but it’s limited.
- built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n* compatible)
- designed to send media to a mobile device via the card's private network
- designed to fit all digital cameras that use SD memory cards
- comes in 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB SDHC-format memory cards
What we like: Wireless card designed for dead-simple sharing. It beams photos and short videos from a camera to your mobile device in an automated, hassle-free way.
What we don't like: Doesn't appeal to photographers who prefer shooting in Raw. Can't transfer to multiple devices at the same time.
Forgo buying a point-and-shoot or cheap fixed-lens mirrorless this year in favor of Sony's camera of the future. The camera and smartphone are linked via Wi-Fi (with NFC capability), and everything is controlled with Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app for iOS and Android. If you want, you can take photos without a smartphone (as the cameras have physical controls) and transfer the photos later.Feature-wise, the QX10 is pretty much point and shoot. There are three shooting modes: iAuto, Superior Auto and Program. The first two both have automatic scene selection, with Superior Auto adding in multi-shot capability such as HDR. There are no manual exposure controls on the QX10, unless you count exposure compensation. Got deep pockets? Try the QX100 for $500 and you'll get a higher quality lens and sensor combination.
- 18-megapixel, 1/2.3" (6.17 x 4.55 mm) CMOS sensor
- f/3.3 - 5.9 aperture
- ISO 100-3200
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 25-250mm focal length
- Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity
What we don't like: Missing quite a few features, including shutter priority and manual exposure modes, adjustable ISO sensitivity, Raw support and Full HD video.
- large shutter button
- comfortable grip
- 1020 mAh of battery life
- Micro-USB charging connector
What we like: Makes your smartphone feel like a real camera.
What we don't like: Honestly, it look pretty silly to take phone calls. But if that doesn't dissuade you, it’s safe to say that you’ll really enjoy using the 1020 with the grip.